Noh is a heavily stylized theater form with religious connotations and representative of high Japanese culture, and Kagura is a heavily stylized dance form with religious connotations and representative of Japanese folk culture. If you want to see something right in between them, you want to see Sada Shin Noh (佐陀神能) at Sada Shrine (佐太神社).

I have written before about the unique architecture of this shrine in a couple of entries before (see here and here), and in the previous entries I have written about the birth of the primary deity, but today our focus is on this piece of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Sada-no-Okami himself (official photo)

This two-day ritual take places on September 24th and 25th every year, and I saw it shortly after I arrived in Matsue. The atmosphere left an impression on me, but I did not have a good view, and like many Shinto rituals, it was initially interesting because of the atmosphere created by the firelight and traditional musical instruments and costumes, but then it started to drag on. However, I only went on the first day, when the holy part of the ritual takes place with the Gozagae dance, which purifies the new tatami mats before placing them inside the shrine in preparation for all the visiting kami during Kamiarizuki (The Month of the Gods, when 8 million deities from around Japan congregate not only at Izumo Taisha, but at a few other shrines throughout the Izumo region as well–meaning, the rest of the country has Kannazuki, the Month Without Gods).

Gozagae ritual (official photo)

The following day is for celebratory dances and performances to entertain the gods (and which, by extension, tend to be more entertaining for the human audiences as well). Unlike the night before, it builds up the drama as the night goes on, and unfortunately, this was not the night I was present.

Thanks to Jihye Park for the photo! Thanks to Jihye Park for the photo!

There are Sada Shin Noh performances occasionally held throughout the year, and I was invited to go along to a spring performance. It was still ritualized, but not the annual, holy ritual around which these folk performance is based. I say folk, but there are historic ties and influences from high-class Noh performances in Kyoto, which people who served at the shrine studies and incorporated. The dances of Sada Shin Noh went on to influence the flamboyant Kagura dance styles throughout Shimane. Nearly every Kagura form around Shimane has their own version of the local legends, especially Susano-o’s battle with the Yamata-no-Orochi.

Thankfully, that was the performance I got to see, called Yaegaki (you often hear this phrase associated with this legend, such as in Yaegaki Shrine). It had a slow start as the chanters set up the story like a conversation between Susano-o and Kushinada-hime, and then built up to the fight between Susano-o and the 8-headed-serpent (presented by one dancer with one head, though other styles of Kagura in Shimane have full coiling and fire-breathing beasts). Susano-o and Kushinada-hime were also in masks, and the subtleness with which they catch the light seems to lend different expressions to unmoving masks, a constant factor among a stream of stylized movements meant to evoke different emotions that a mask alone cannot.

 Thanks to Jihye Park for the photo! Thanks to Jihye Park for the photo!

It was of a different style and approach than seen in this 2003 video, but just when I thought the special performance might be wrapping up, they started the Akugiri dance (see 5:23). This made me sit up and pay extra attention, as it was the most impressive sword-slinging I had ever seen, coupled with valiant shouts from the old man which could easily have scared off any evil spirit. Although the percussion sounds in the video seem primary, the howl of the flutes guided the atmosphere more than anything else, and on that quiet night, I can only imagine how far the sounds carried through the quiet neighborhoods of Kashima-cho in northern Matsue.

It is a very closely held neighborhood traditional, and the people involved tend to be very tightly involved. Watching the performances also became more interesting once I had more of an understanding of how closely they are tied to the locale, especially since I could watch and recognize some of the people. Like, “Oh, that old priest on the big drums gave me a tour around the roof construction of the shrine” and “he has a mask on, but I can tell that the guy playing Susano-o is someone I know from city hall, and we went to a yakiniku party together once” and “now I finally get to hear one of my tea ceremony classmates perform the flute.”

There are a number of other dances among the Sada Shin Noh repertoire, and who knows, perhaps I will have another chance to go enjoy the atmosphere they create and oogle at the skills of the performers.


I’m sometimes asked if I’ve tried any crazy ice cream flavors found throughout Japan. Well… no, not that weird. Or at least, I don’t find them weird enough to write home about.

Let’s make it clear that Japan is not usually as weird as the Internet would have you think it is. Plus, the “weird” food that Japanese people are actually crazy and excited about don’t seem to be quite as much of a focal point on the English speaking side of things. Allow me to fix that by having you see Youka Medama Oyaji from spooky Sakaiminato. Go. Look. They’re awesome.

Anyway, I cannot deny that there is a trend throughout the country of taking the local speciality–be it a fish or fruit or ramen–and presenting it in ice cream form, often for the sort of cringe-worthy results you’d expect to find at a US state fair, with each fried food stand trying to out do the others with a deep-frying some new combination of mega-calories. I don’t think many people choose to eat these ice creams for the sake of eating them, but rather for the sake of being able to say they’ve eaten them.

I’m not innocent of trying some strange things just to have the experience–I’ve probably had chocolate with everything but bugs, only because I haven’t had the opportunity yet. But when it comes to the specialities each region of Japan is so proud of, I figure I’d rather try them with my lunch, and just enjoy my ice cream as ice cream.

Then every so often you wind up finding an interesting spin on ice cream that really can just stand to be its own flavor without the fear-factor appeal. I’ve mentioned the soba-flavored ice cream before, but that was nice enough that I’d totally order it again just for the sake of having a refreshing little ice cream. It turns out I had two more ice creams that day, too. We were feeling adventurous and there is always room for more ice cream.

To quote myself from the soba entry:

I tried this at a new Michi-no-Eki (a fancy style of road stations or rest stops throughout Japan, many of which are sights in and of themselves) in Unnan, located south of Izumo and Matsue (together with Okuizumo and Yasugi, these five cities/towns make up what is commonly know as the “Izumo region”). This Michi-no-Eki is called Tatara-ichibanchi and has a special focus on introducing local mythology (especially the Yamata-no-Orochi 8-headed giant serpent, which resided in Unnan), with the help of Shimane’s volunteer tourism ambassador, the scowling Yoshida-kun (whose day job happens to be attempting to take over the world). (Recall that Yoshida-kun and company have also volunteered their villianous services in telling Lafcadio Hearn‘s “Kwaidan” ghost stories.)

We left the soba restaurant for the Tatalover counter. In addition to spicy ramen and soy milk soup with mochi, they also had two kinds of soft serve: Orochi-no-Tsume and Otamahan.

If you’ve been following this blog for a long time, “Orochi” should sound familiar, but in case it doesn’t, you can start reading the legend of the Yamata-no-Orochi 8-headed serpent, or cut straight to how Unnan was the beast’s hometown. Orochi-no-Tsume–that is, “Claws of Orochi”–are a kind of chili pepper grown in Unnan. They are about three times longer than the more commonly known Taka-no-Tsume (“Claws of the Hawk”), so they are not quite as spicy and it’s easier to enjoy the sweetness of chili peppers–provided you’re okay with the afterbite. You can read more and see more pictures here and here.

Click for source

As for Otamahan, does the term Tamago-kake Gohan mean anything to you?

This is known as Japanese soul food, and although I don’t claim to know food culture from around the world in as much depth, it’s hard to think of another culture that so thoroughly enjoys raw eggs. Completely raw, not just runny. Besides being a folk cure for hangover and other ailments or serving as dipping sauce for sukiyaki hot pot, there is something wonderfully comforting about a simple, tasty bowl of Tamago-kake Gohan (sometimes abbreiviated TKG, like US PBJ). Literally, it’s cooked rice with egg added to it. I had heard of it and had raw egg here and there–I don’t really mind it–and had heard how big of a thing it is in Unnan, but one of my deepest impressions of the dish was when I was traveling with my naginata group to the Western Japan youth competition (I was tagging along to root them on!), and along the way we stopped for lunch at a Michi-no-Eki. One of the mom’s of the group was preparing this dish for her 3-year-old, and asked me if I ever had it, and then started gushing about the comforts of this particular kind of soul food, abruptly stopping herself wondering I would find the idea too gross. When I indicated I was fine, she offered me a taste. It was pretty much what I expected.

This is Otamahan style, click for source.

The following morning we all had teishoku breakfast together (teishoku is a set meal with multiple little dishes already planned by the host), and it included a raw egg for this dish. The thing about TKG is that you can’t use just any eggs, you have to be sure they’re really fresh, reliably tasty eggs (the local source of the eggs is a big part of Otamahan, which we’ll return to). After cracking that egg open in the dish provided and pouring it on to your rice, you add some soy sauce–this is essential–and stir it all together, and enjoy. Then again, you could mix the egg with soy sauce first, or you could add the directly on top of the rice, you could dig a well in the rice for the egg, or you could even use some cold rice… it’s really up to taste and habit. Some spins on the dish will include seaweed or green onions or whatever strikes their fancy.

Confident in my egg-cracking skills, I added my egg directly to the rice and only added a little bit of soy sauce so as not to drown out the flavor of the yolk. Sitting across a few different tables, the mom I had been talking with before asked her 7-year-old if I was trying the TKG, and she loudly announced that I was. This drew other’s attention to my breakfast and my first attempt at making this seemingly simply dish.

“There’s a lot of egg white left in your shells, Buri-san… you sure you got enough in your rice?”
“Did you add soy sauce? It looks like you need more soy sauce.”
“Is it good? Of course it’s good. Doesn’t it make you just feel so comforted and happy and satisfied?”

Well… it’s no PBJ. It’s just another aspect of normal life in Japan that tastes very Japanese. So sure, it’s good. While I’m happy with it if that’s what’s on the menu, I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it myself. I’d be happier with some Orochi-no-Tsume, thanks.

And now, back to Unnan.

Obviously, Unnan is not the only place that appreciates some nice, fresh TKG with just the right proportion of all of the ingredients. But perhaps not every small town takes as much pride in their local TKG place, Unnan Otamahan Cafe.

Click for source and more photos

It’s a place everyone knows, but like most well-known restaurants displaying local character everywhere from Unnan to bustling business districts of Tokyo, they tend to take holidays on the more inopportune of days. Thus, also my friends in Unnan have thought taking me there many times, the timing never quite lines up right. I’ve nonetheless heard plenty about this neighborhood hangout. Although they offer a fuller menu now, the heart of the shop its TKG, and the beauty is in its simplicity–koshihikari rice from Izumo, Tanabe-no-Tamago brand eggs from free-range chickens in Okuiizumo, and star of the establishment, preservative and additive-free soy sauce specifically created for TKG, sold elsewhere under the Otamahan brandname (with scowling Shimane ambassador Yoshida-kun making appearances and comments on some labels).

Now, back to the ice cream.

The Orochi-no-Tsume ice cream was sweet and had the flavor of chili peppers, and just as you start to think “this isn’t so spicy” you get hit with the aftertaste. I mean that in a good way, so long as you enjoy spice.

As for the Otamahan, it’s not made with raw eggs or rice, but rather the ice cream is flavored with the Otamahan soy sauce. It’s drizzled with caramel on top.

It wasn’t bad, but my friends and I agreed that we preferred the Orochi-no-Tsume. There was one other soft-serve ice cream flavor available at another counter that day that I think was more of an eggy flavor, but I didn’t get around to trying it–yet, I suppose.

Well, that fun. Now I want to go find some ramune or black sesame flavored soft serve. There is a wonderful world of perfectly normal Japanese ice cream flavors beyond green tea!

Dear Susano-o, please grant me some of your wedded bliss!

Following Parts 1 and 2 of the overview of Yamata-no-Orochi sites, we’ve reached the happily-ever-after for Susano-o and Kushinada-hime. Perhaps moreso than for a bloodthirsty and intoxicated giant eight-headed slithering monster, visitors come to the Izumo region seeking their own happy endings.

Here’s that buzzword again: en-musubi.

En originally has to do with any sort of ties different people and nature may have interwoven with each other, but it’s more popularly associated with matchmaking–and there is lots and lots of matchmaking to be done here. Izumo Taisha pretty much specializes in it, and that effect is extended to the rest of the region. Here in Matsue, there are a number of little places specifically known as en-musubi power spots, and finding them is supposed to give you good luck in finding your soul mate–everything from Yaegaki Shrine to a heart in the natural grain of the wood used inside Matsue Castle.

Finding romantic en in all sorts of unintentional places is common throughout Japan. For instance, which a couple of large rocks are found near each other, they are considered Meoto-Iwa (“Husband-and-Wife Boulders”), and they are often tied together with shimenawa, like the pair found in the Mihonoseki area of the Shimane Peninsula.

Click for image source and other Mihonoseki photos!

The Meoto-Iwa representing Susano-o and Kushinada-hime on Mt. Yakumo take this a step further by having a whole family of rocks, including one to represent the fruits of their union. By the time I got to the area while doing my Orochi day tour I had run out of daylight (would have been fine if I went in summer instead of winter!), so I haven’t seen these rocks myself, but here are a couple Japanese blogs that have lots of photos of the hike leading up to the rocks and the view from the top: here and here.

The photo I’ve seen most often is from an advertising campaign for the San’in region that features Nezumiotoko, a well-known character from Gegege-no-Kitaro (thanks for lending him out, Sakaiminato!)

Susano-o is partially to thank for the popularity of en-musubi, seeing as his was one of the first successful marriages in the Shinto pantheon. The heavenly pairings never seemed to end quite as well as the matches made in Izumo, and the fact that Susano-o chose to reside here helps.

This marriage between the God of the Seas (and then some) and one of the earthly kami who populated the land below the heavens was arranged in a rather human-like way. They had wedding preparations to do (which took place at Oomori Shrine), and Kushinada-hime required clean water when we was giving birth to their first child (which is why she chose Kawabe Shrine).

Let’s not forget that a girl has to look good on her wedding day, too. The mirror pond she used to fix her hair is found at Yaegaki Shrine in southern Matsue (the name should sound very familiar if you read Susano-o’s poem!). It’s a major destination for young women who come from all over the country to have the pond reveal their romantic fate. It’s fairly common to see travelers depart from the JR station to take a bus straight there before moving on to the rest of their en-musubi journey.

The pond is located behind the shrine, and the custom is (as it has been since Lafcadio Hearn‘s time, at least) to purchase a piece of paper, then float a coin on it–typically 10yen or 100yen. The most the paper hits the surface of the water, some writing appears to reveal some characteristic about your soul mate–like if they’re a kind person–and then you wait for the paper to sink. The closer to the end of the pond it sinks, the closer that person will be found, the faster it sinks, the sooner you’ll meet them. While the pond takes on a mysterious color filled with sunken papers, there are a few sad papers around the edges that never sank.

It seems like it would be more fun to do with a group of a single girlfriends than, say, with your boyfriend you dragged along.

This is said to be the shrine where Susano-o and Kushinada-hime got married. In general, Japanese society embraces both Shintoism and Buddhism, but for different purposes–Buddhist services are meant for funerals, and Shinto services are meant for weddings. While not as common as Meoto-Iwa, this shrine is also known for its Meoto-Tsubaki, the husband-and-wife camellia trees that grew into each other.

Yaegaki Shrine is also a place many young parents used to visit with special prayer requests for their children to behave. It’s very common for en-musubi shrines to go hand-in-hand with family wellness.

It’s also one of Japan’s unabashed fertility shrines. It’s there if you’re looking for it.

While Yaegaki is free to enter (as most shrine are, compared to touristy temples), you can pay 200yen to see original of one of the very first portraits of a kami–specifically Kushinada-hime, with Susano-o behind her. It seems it dates back to 893ad.

Susano-o and Kushinada-hime decided to make their home at Susa Shrine, around the border of modern day Matsue and Unnan. I have to borrow the photo below because by the time I visited it, it was after dark and I didn’t get many good photos myself. That said, it is indeed a sugasugashii (refreshing) place, as Susano-o described it in the first waka (Japanese poem).

Coincidentally, one of Japan’s most famous poets of the Asuka period, Kakinomoto-no-Hitomaro, has strong ties with the city of Masuda in southwestern Shimane in the Iwami region.

Suga Shrine is not only where the first waka was composed, but it is also said to be the first shrine of Japan.

“First Shrine in Japan”

If a shrine is a dwelling place for a heavenly being, then it would make sense if the first one to dwell on the earth (by his choice or not) resided in it. The earthly kami didn’t really count–after all, Susano-o appointed his in-laws as the caretakers for his holy household.

This was, however, just their starter home. Susano-o would go on to still play more of a role in the Kojiki, though I’m a couple stories away from getting to that. There are also many other shrines honoring Susano-o (as well as Kushinada-hime) throughout the Izumo region, and many of the local styles of Kagura dance depict the legend of the Yamata-no-Orochi. Those will pop up from time to time, but this post will wrap our Yamata-no-Orochi daytrip.

We got the overview of the home of the Yamata-no-Orochi last time. It didn’t only love the coolness of the Shimane mountains, it loved alcohol–especially Shimane’s rice wine.

If you drive around Unnan with a Yamata-no-Orochi tourism map, you can find your way to places like Kamaishi, a stone that marks the spot where the sake was brewed eight times over, or Kusamakura, a set of hills the monster used as a “grassy pillow” when it was tipsy.

Perhaps the most important site is Inze-no-Tsubogami, where the basins that held the potent liquor were buried (couldn’t have those falling into the wrong lightweight hands, after all!).

It’s a bit of a drive (or bike ride)…

…and then you need to abandon your car for a short hike.

Getting closer…

…and then you find this.

There’s not much on this mountain, but it does have atmosphere. The fenced area is around the rocks that closed off the sake basins from the outside world. A curse upon anyone who tries to dig them out!

Maybe a long time ago someone thought reaching in and leaving a 5-yen coin would bring them good luck.

Like the previously mentioned chopsticks, this legend is one of the first records of sake production in Japan. It is not the only legend that suggests the Izumo region was the first to enjoy the stuff. Rather, it’s association with Izumo City is stronger than with Unnan City, given the fame and prominence of Izumo Taisha even in modern Shintoism.

Izumo Taisha is where all the gods in Japan congregate for their annual meeting to decide the fates and interminglings of people and nature–otherwise known as en. It’s not all work, though–those gods are known for drinking lots and lots of sake. This perhaps has less to do with drunken kami-sama so much as sake‘s purifying qualities, hence, it is used extensively in Shinto rituals. Because there are so many gods to offer sake to at Izumo Taisha, it means that there is lots and lots of high quality sake contributed there.

The shrine is all fresh and new thanks to the Heisei Sengu!

Izumo Taisha is not, however, the leading sake shrine. Instead, that would be Saka Shrine (yes, there is sake-related history behind that name). You can read a more thorough description of the brewing-related rituals that take place there on the Connect Shimane website, but suffice to say for our purposes here that the main deity is the patron of brewers, and this is the lead shrine among all others that also worship that kami. This shrine is also sometimes called Matsuo Shrine, which should indeed sound familiar if you’ve been to this famous old shrine in western Kyoto.

So Shimane has history with sake, perhaps the first to make it. Sure, that’s great. But is it any good?

I tend to stick with Matsue’s tea and wagashi culture rather than drink alcohol so I can’t say for sure, but the general concensus is that it’s phenomenal.

Here’s what has to say about it:

And most importantly, what’s it taste like? Indeed, Shimane sake has one of the most easily identifiable, describable, and likeable flavor and aromatic profiles in the country. In short, Shimane sake is comparatively dense in flavor, yet fine-grained and clean. There is usually a higher amino acid content, giving Shimane sake plenty of “umami.” More concretely, much sake from this region has a nutty touch with a subdued sweetness in the background, full flavor, and a brilliant acidity that both spreads the flavors and provides some backbone. Aromatically, flowers, melon-like fruit, and touches of autumnal things like pumpkins are common in Shimane sake.

Shimane is already known for award-winning rice due to the clean water and ideal temperature conditions in the mountains, but those qualities don’t just make for good staple food. To borrow more of Sake-World’s explanation:

Even more commendable is that 60% of all rice used in sake brewing in Shimane is proper sake rice. As 80% of all sake brewed in Japan is “table sake,” most of this does not use premium sake rice, but rather run-of-the-mill stuff. The fact that Shimane is way above that average is encouraging.

I’d ask the Yamata-no-Orochi if it agrees with all this sparkling praise of the sake fit for kami-sama, but it’s a little beat up and buried now. With that monster out of the way, Susano-o and Kushinada-hime had wedded bliss to keep busy with, which we’ll take a look at next time.

I feel a little late on this, especially since I finished posting the story of Susano-o and the Yamata-no-Orochi a few weeks ago and did my own tour of Unnan back in January and it’s now June.

Unnan (雲南) is a fairly new city, established in 2004 with the merger of five towns and one village. It’s in the southern (南) part of the Izumo region (出雲, which is also sometimes called Unshuu 雲州 with an alternate pronunciation for 雲), hence the name. Not all of the sites having to do with the Yamata-no-Orochi legend take place within the city borders, but most of them do, so many public areas and businesses decorate with giant serpant motifs. For a harrowing monster that’s inspired countless artistic renditions throughout Japanese history and more recently served as the inspiration for foes facing everyone from Godzilla to Doraemon, it hasn’t been able to escape modern Japan’s kawaiiifying culture.

That said, if you ask people from Unnan what they’re most proud of, they might mention the largest collection of dotaku (bronze bells) excavated from a single site which was found at Kamo Iwakura, or the cherry trees along the Kuno River (and by extension, the Hii River). It’s designated as one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan, and it just so happens that I did my flower viewing there a couple months ago. They also have reason to proud of their high quality Kisuki Milk.

One of the other claims to fame you’ll see posters for was a movie set in Unnan and called “Un, nan?” (うん、何? which means “yeah, what?”). This little high school romance not only features cherry blossoms, milk, archeological dig sites, and everyone’s favorite eight-headed monster, but it also helped make a bridge near the cherry blossoms and spanning the Hii River famous as the Negai-bashi (願橋, Wishing Bridge).

The story goes that if you can cross the bridge with your eyes closed, your wish will be granted. With the help of my guide (a fellow CIR stationed in Unnan who always makes a fun guide), I succeeded! I was so focused on crossing, though, that I forgot to make a wish. I suppose if my wish was to cross without falling in, then it came true.

That said, the Hii River, which flows through the old land of Izumo from the mountains north to Lake Shinji is also the spot where Susano-o first reached Japan. It was there that he noticed a pair of chopsticks floating down the river, leading him to conclude that there was civilization nearby, and thereby leading the people of Izumo to conclude that chopsticks come from Izumo because this was the first recorded use of them.

There are gift shops lining the way to Izumo Taisha which specialize in chopsticks, including really, really fancy, expensive bridal chopsticks. That said, a wedding at Izumo Taisha isn’t terribly expensive, you just have to book really far in advance!

At first I didn’t buy that, but there are many scholars that suggest Susano-o is a kami of possible Korean origins, unlike his more nationally revered and purely Japanese sister Amaterasu. It’s quite possible that a number of pieces of daily life in Japan were imported from China via Korea by way of the San’in region.

Moving further south along the Hii River, it doesn’t surprise me that the Yamata-no-Orochi would also choose this part of the region as its home. I rather like weekend getaways to the mountains of Unnan myself. Since I happened to visit a handful of hot springs the last time I was out there, I’ve marked on the map where the hot springs are in the area just for fun.

I’ve visited only three of the ones that show up here! I have much more onsen-ing to do.

The Yamata-no-Orochi was particularly known to reside at a place called Ama-ga-fuchi. Though these are photos from a cold winter evening, it is a breezy place to stop in summer–which is when I’m betting this story took place given Susano-o’s poem about how refreshing the area is.

One of the theories I’ve heard about the origins of this legend is that the anatomy of the Yamata-no-Orochi was based on the mountains and the offshoots of the Hii River. It’s threat to kamikind was likely based on the flooded river’s threat to humankind. The “grass-cutting” sword Susano-o found within one of the tails may represent human triumph over nature in preventing floods and engaging in agriculture, as well as building tools and swords out of iron (both techniques might also have been inherited from Korea). Furthermore, Kushinada-hima is also known as Inata-hime–“Rice Field Princess.” This sources for the Yamata-no-Orochi certainly seems plausible to me, though I don’t know where they would have gotten the parts about the red eyes. On that note, iron is a big thing in ancient Izumo, but that’s something to touch on another time.

On a typical day-tour of the Orochi sites I doubt most people are thinking that deeply into it. It’s fun to drive with a map and check out the well-marked places were even minute pieces of the story took place. While this was the place that the Yamata-no-Orochi lived, it’s also the place where it was buried–the tails in a place called Iwatsubo Shrine, and the heads in a tiny neighborhood spot called Happonsugi (八本杉, literally “eight cedars”). There are eight cedar trees growing there to mark the eight heads.

Besides the tall cedars, there’s not much here besides this rock (and buried heads, I suppose).

And there’s a pretty pattern in the gravel.

And this… altar? Casket? Whatever it is, it’s not something I’m used to seeing in a Shinto shrine–not that this even counts as a shrine so much as a holy site.

I didn’t find any information indicating what this is, but I did find that whoever carved this had nice penmanship.

We’ll be moving on to many people’s favorite part of the legend next: the sake.
Or you could skip ahead to matchmaking.

Continued from Part 6

Recall that Susano-o was banished for picking on his older sister, the sun goddess.
Continued in Part 8 (the conclusion!)

Continued from Part 5

Continued in Part 7

Continued from Part 4

Continued in Part 6

Continued from Part 3

Continued in Part 5

Continued from Part 2

Continued in Part 4!